Solitude and Leadership
If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts
William Deresiewicz delivers a speech to a graduating class at the United States Military Academy at West Point on how they can avoid falling into the trap of becoming “excellent sheep” and instead learn to be leaders:
I saw around me great kids who had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers. Any goal you set them, they could achieve. Any test you gave them, they could pass with flying colors. They were, as one of them put it herself, “excellent sheep.” I had no doubt that they would continue to ace tests and go on to Harvard Business School, or Goldman Sachs, or whatever. And this approach would indeed take them far in life. They would come back for their 25th reunion as a partner or an assistant secretary in the Department of State. What we don’t have, however, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction.